In the spirit of novels such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Unit,” comes a similar story that depicts the possibility of a not-too-distant-future, that while seeming hardly believable now, could actually come to conception when you really get right down to the root of the idea. An alumna of Hailsham, a mysterious school located in the English countryside, Kathy H. and her fellow classmates are not your ordinary human beings. Much of Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” is spent reminding readers that Hailsham students are “special,” a characteristic that up until the last quarter of the story, we can only guess at as to why. The students’ caretakers, or guardians as they are called, instruct Hailsham students on the importance of taking care of themselves, “keeping yourselves very healthy inside, that’s much more important for each of you then it is for me,” as one guardian puts it. As Kathy H. reminisces, “even at that age – we were 9 or 10 – we knew just enough to make us wary of that whole territory. We certainly knew – though not in any deep sense – that we were different from our guardians, and also from the normal people outside; we perhaps even knew that a long way down the line there were donations waiting for us. But we didn’t really know what that meant.”
The little pieces Kazuo Ishiguro lets onto early on in “Never Let Me Go” deal with the Hailsham students and donations. We are told that “normal” people are overcome with revulsion and dread at the mention of Hailsham students, especially Madame, the strange woman who comes to the school from time to time to pick up art for her “gallery,” that students spend much of their time creating. If for nothing else, this story had me reading to find out the great mystery behind the Hailsham students and their donations and kept my attention with the beautiful writing. Truly a coming-of-age tragic story, the plot follows Kathy H. and her closest classmates, Tommy and Ruth, as they grow inside the walls of Hailsham and beyond, dealing not only with the hardships of day to day life and growing up, but also those that face them in their uncertain future. If you’ve recently seen the theatrical movie release starring Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley, or you’re looking for a pretty decent read, I’d recommend checking out Never Let Me Go.